Rediscover: Rosemary's Baby

When Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into their dream apartment at the Bramford, a Gothic Revival building in Manhattan, they meet a group of elderly, eccentric but amicable neighbors--hardly the dour sort who might inhabit a building of dubious reputation. Guy, a struggling actor, makes fast friends with the neighbors, and soon lands a professional break thanks to a rival's misfortune. Rosemary is thrilled when she gets pregnant, but as the doting neighbors turn from nosy to overbearing, and Rosemary's pregnancy takes uncomfortable turns, she discovers the Bram's odd residents are far more ominous than they seem.

Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby (1967) is a classic work of psychological horror. The book's commercial success, with more than four million copies sold, facilitated a boom in horror novels and films, especially of the Satanic subgenre; in a 2002 interview, Levin attributed The Exorcist and The Omen to Rosemary's Baby, with a rise in such stories perhaps causing a fundamentalist backlash. "Of course," he said, "I didn't send back any of the royalty checks." Roman Polaski's film adaptation starring Mia Farrow remains one of the greatest horror films of the 20th Century. Levin (1929-2007), described by Stephen King as "the Swiss watchmaker of suspense novels," also wrote A Kiss Before Dying (1953), The Stepford Wives (1972) and The Boys from Brazil (1976). A fiftieth anniversary edition of Rosemary's Baby was published on March 7, 2017, by Pegasus Books ($15.95, 9781681774664). --Tobias Mutter

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